Friday, November 29, 2013

A (Brief) Tale of Three Thanksgivings

The last three Thanksgivings have been vastly different experiences.  The last two were like night and day.  Thanksgiving 2012 was the last holiday I celebrated before coming out to my family and it was an extremely awkward day....

In my last post I mentioned that I got my last ever short "male style" hair cut right before Thanksgiving 2011.  Everything was awkward to me back then, as it had been for as long as I can remember, but in 2012 as I actually began transition, the awkwardness got turned up a notch each day that passed while I remained in hiding. 

So many things were going right for me last November.  I had been in therapy almost a year, been on hormones 6 months, been dating my boyfriend Mitchell for over a year and had a plan to come out and go full time by the end of the year.  What I did not have was any idea what would happen when I actually did come out or any certainty that my family would accept me, that I would be able to keep living in my home or that I would have the support I needed to eventually complete my transition.  Life was one big question mark. 

One more thing I did have though was hope; hope and a real belief that somehow everything would be ok.  Still, each passing day it became harder to try to present myself as male and harder to hide my secret.  The secret that had lingered inside me for so long was now slowly coming out and I didn't know how much longer I could continue to hold it in.  People had to notice that I was changing.


Back on Thanksgiving Day 2011, I had my freshly cut hair and had made no permanent changes to my appearance.  I could put on makeup, breast forms and a wig whenever I had the chance, but when I wanted to hide it was easy.  A year later I could be me and everything was natural, although I still couldn't be me all the time.

I probably wore the same clothes last Thanksgiving as I had in 2011, but my hair was now too long to comb behind my ear, my ears were pierced earlier in the year so I wore small stud ear rings and I wore a sports bra under my sweater in an attempt to hide my breast growth.  In the few pictures we took as a family last Thanksgiving I looked terrible.  I was miserable and it really showed.



Two days before Thanksgiving 2012, at home happy and relaxed.  Thanksgiving Day was not so relaxing....
The hardest part of Thanksgiving 2012 was putting on a good face with everything that going on with me here at home.  Joan and I were not getting along at all and we both felt we couldn't live together much longer.  She had known about my boyfriend for months and now knew he came to see me here when she went away.  You could probably cut the tension between us with a knife even when we had company like we did on Thanksgiving.

Joan was always the one to cook the turkey and she did a very good job of it.  We had a small family and on this day my parents would join us here as well as Joan's daughter, who drove to town for a couple of hours.  I sensed a little tension between her and I that I had not felt before.  I didn't know what Joan had told her and this was the first time she had seen me with my longer hair down, not to mention any other changes she might have noticed.  Knowing what I know now, I would say that by this time Joan had told her pretty much everything, so my persona that day was more fake than ever.

We also celebrated Jumper's birthday each thanksgiving and this was her "sweet 16" party.  For the first time ever, I got our beloved, elder family dog a birthday card as well as a new orthopedic pad and the usual other presents.  I felt like this would be her last birthday and wanted it to be special, but the other members of the family seemed distracted and I don't think we gave her the party she deserved.  Maybe my parents also sensed changes on the horizon, as there was more tension between us than usual.  Last Thanksgiving, I really just felt like a fish out of water. 

As you all must know by now, 2 weeks and three days after Thanksgiving last year, Joan left me while I was in Virginia visiting Mitchell.  Three days later I came out to my Mother, she told Daddy and three days after that I went Full Time.  I had the acceptance I needed and more love than I could have ever asked for.  I know I am extremely lucky to have this experience and not everyone gets so lucky.  This year, Thanksgiving 2013, I had more to be thankful for than ever!

Things were obviously very different this year.  It was just my parents and I, along with cherished family dogs Buddy and Nightingale, celebrating Thanksgiving at their home down the block.  I was comfortable this year, outwardly and within myself, and happy but there was a hole where Joan and Jumper used to be.  Joan's daughter and I exchanged "Happy Thanksgiving" texts and I spoke with Joan on the phone.  It would have been nice to have Mitchell join us, but he was in Virginia with his kids so we texted, talked on the phone and I will see him this weekend. 
 

This year I missed having Jumper around but I am extremely thankful to have had this special animal in my life for so long.  She was with us for 16 Thanksgivings and will always be with me in my heart. 

Before going to my parents' for lunch I walked Buddy and Night around the City Lake, stopping for awhile at the spot where I carried Jumper on her last day on earth, to give her a last goodbye before taking her to the vet.  I remembered the many times we walked her around the lake and I remembered the times we had in the country where she spent half her life.  The dogs sat still while I said a few tear filled words.  Once again I looked up in the sky and saw our beautiful Jumper out there in the field, Running Again.